As the title of this article suggests, if you have a home business then you are still running a business and therefore it should still be treated as a business.
This is essential for your brand image.
Many people look less favourably towards home business rather than one that has become successful and grown out of its infancy stage and moved into a professional office.
The truth is that this is not always the case, many home businesses can and do flourish and operate as very professional businesses. However, it requires the owner to treat it like a professional business for their customers to follow suit and do the same.
‘Inward facing’ do what you like,– wear your PJ’s all day, answer the phone stark naked if this works for you. But as soon as your business becomes ‘outward facing’ it’s time to put on your ‘business hat’. Be professional on the phone. If someone comes over, put some clothes on, clothing that is appropriate for the type of client.
This article was inspired by a personal experience I had the other week.
My wife and I were looking for a new day-care for our child. We made a list of the type of things we wanted in our day care. There were the ‘touchables’ like being close to our home; had to be licensed; the drop off and collection hours had to work with our schedule, to mention just a few.
There was also the ‘emotional’ list. Did the person instil trust that they would be a great teacher and provider for our daughter and did they seem passionate about their job and the possibility of being our daughter’s day -care provider.
The service I received from the day-cares that were ‘not’ home run was as I expected. They were professional, passionate and had time to answer my questions. The service I got from the home run daycares was astonishingly poor and often shocking.
There were three instances that shocked me the most. On one occasion I called someone and their young child (probably about eight years old) answered. He loosely took a message as he didn’t know if his Mom was around. I was left with no confidence that the Mom would actually get the message. They were instantly crossed off our list of potential options.
Many of the home day-cares I called answered the phone by simply saying ‘hello’. Whatever happened to “Hello, ACME daycare, Joyce speaking, how can I help you?” This is the bare minimum I would expect from a company that is being run professionally. If you have other people answering the phone, train them to answer the phone in a similar way. Or even better, get a private line with an answering service that is just for the business and not for Joyce, Bob, Charlie and little Peter.
We visited one home run day-care after the lady was great on the phone. The problem came when the lady started showing us around. She said things like “this is where the kids put their coats and belongings, it’s a little messy right now, I should really tidy that up”. We thought if it was messy now, it will probably always be messy.
Before a client or potential client comes over to your home business, tidy up. Wash the dishes (even if you have to hide them in the oven, get them out of sight), vacuum, dress up, and whatever it is that you are selling make sure it is spectacular.
Finally and most shocking was the lady that my wife visited. The information she had sent was amazing, it read really well and sounded very professional. The price was also a great fit for what we were seeking. I was very hopeful. One of the first things that the lady told my wife was how hard the previous year had been with the kids that she had in her care, in fact, she said that she was close to a nervous break down and really hoped this year would be better. Seriously. Then, when questioned on her first-aid qualifications (something that was high on our essential list) she said that she use to have it, but it may now have expired and that she should ‘probably’ look into this.
It is a great example that it is easy to say great things about your company but actually the ‘proof is in the pudding’, so to speak.
If people believe your sales pitch and try out your product or service and they have a poor experience, they will NOT be coming back for more.
More than that, they will probably share their poor experience and tarnish your name and any positive brand image that you may have created to date.
As a branding specialist and communication designer this would be like me trying to sell you a logo design but letting you know “that the last client I had was very disappointed with my work–In fact it was really stressful and I don’t like dealing with people much. And by the way, you should hire me.”–Not going to happen, right?
We all have bad experiences running a business, whether it’s a home business or a multi- million dollar corporation. But put simply, ‘keep your mouth shut’ about them, especially when talking to staff and even more so, to potential new clients.
As I mentioned earlier, as a home business you may be perceived as not quite having made it yet. This adds even more importance that you pull out all the stops and treat each customer as if you are the best in your business and in that moment they are the most important person in your world.
Any home-run business is still a business. Operate one that is professional and leaves its clients with a positive experience.
If it’s not obvious how to do this then ask other successful companies for help and mentor you as a fellow business owner. On the most basic level look at shops and companies you like to do business with, what is it about them that has been an enjoyable experience and has you going back for more. Once you identify these successful elements, incorporate them into your business.
From there, keep on learning and keep on enjoying the benefits that come with owning a home-run business.